The administration of Uttar Pradesh’s Agra city on Tuesday sealed a hospital after its owner was purportedly caught on a video saying that the facility cut off oxygen supply for patients for five minutes in a mock drill in April, The Indian Express reported. The mock drill happened when UP and several other states were grappling with acute shortages of oxygen amid the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Arinjay Jain, the owner of Paras Hospital, has been booked under the Epidemic Diseases Act and Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant, causing obstruction and injury), according to ANI.
In the video, which triggered massive outrage on Tuesday, Jain was heard saying that the mock drill was done on April 26 to check who would survive if the hospital’s oxygen supply ran out. Scroll.in has not independently verified the authenticity of the video. At one point in video, he said that 22 patients “turned blue” and gasped for breath when their oxygen supply was interrupted.
Agra District Magistrate Prabhu Narain Singh claimed that no patient died due to oxygen shortage at the hospital on April 28, the day the video was reportedly shot. “Oxygen was available at the hospital on April 28,” he told ANI. “Agra is a small city. There would be an outcry if 22 patients die at a hospital.”
Singh added that the district administration itself sent oxygen cylinders to Paras Hospital. “We would send five cylinders wherever there was a scarcity,” Singh told The Indian Express. “In the case of Paras Hospital, we first sent five cylinders. When they faced more requirement, and their usual vendor could not deliver, we sent them cylinders through one of our suppliers.”
The hospital’s owner has now denied that there was a mock drill at the hospital, ANI reported. “I used the phrase by mistake, or you could say in innocence,” Jain claimed. “We checked the patients individually to see the minimum level of oxygen level at which they could be kept. The supply was not cut off.”
Patients admitted to the hospital will now be moved to another facility after its sealing, according to The Indian Express. “There are 55 patients who need to be shifted, which the CMO [chief minister’s office] will look at,” the Agra district magistrate told the The Indian Express. “But the hospital will be sealed anyhow. Our investigation is not yet complete and we are still verifying facts.”
However, the attendants of some of the patients said that they were asked to take them to other facilities on their own. “Our patient was admitted in hospital’s ICU [intensive care unit] two days ago,” a woman told ANI. “He’s on oxygen support. Hospital administration has handed over patient’s file and asked to take the patient to another hospital. I don’t know where to take the patient.”
Another patient’s attendant said: “My father had a surgery yesterday [Monday] and he’s yet to be healed. In this critical condition, where do I take him? I urge the administration to give us some time.”